Researcher Tests Google Glass for Use in Patient Care

Assistant Professor Ryan Shaw, PhD, RN, is exploring how one of the most intriguing and cutting-edge pieces of technology, Google Glass, can help improve patient care. Launched last year by Google, this wearable computer weighs about 1.8 ounces and looks like a pair of glasses. In many ways, the device is like a smartphone but almost completely hands free. The user can check email, search for directions and take videos and photos but with all the information displayed on a “screen” that is in the wearer’s peripheral vision.

It is the video function of Google Glass that intrigues Shaw. He is testing these devices to determine how they can be used in primary care settings. On Friday, May 2, Dr. Shaw, along with colleagues from Duke School of Nursing and the Duke Medicine Pickens Clinic, simulated scenarios where a doctor and nurse are in different locations but consulting in real time regarding a patient’s condition.

“Currently, there is little research for how Google Glass can be employed in healthcare to improve primary care, but there is so much potential in this new technology that has yet to be tested,” said Dr. Shaw.

The mock scenario involved a clinician wearing the Google Glass while evaluating and educating a patient in the School of Nursing second floor simulation labs. In another room, Dr. Mo Shahsahebi, MD, MBA, was wearing another Google Glass. Dr. Shahsahebi and Dr. Shaw were connected via Google Hangout, a virtual chat platform, and Dr. Shahsahebi was able to see everything live from the perspective of a clinician. Ideally, the two men can share insights and feedback on the patient’s condition. In addition, the patient evaluation was recorded and they simulated a patient returning home to re-watch the recording on both a laptop and in Google Glass. A video of the scenario can be watched here

“This is the first of several projects to evaluate the feasibility of using Google Glass in a primary care setting. I want to see how this technology could improve efficiency and communication. I also want to see how patients feel about having a practitioner who uses Google Glass during a clinic visit and how patients can use Google Glass when they return home,” said Shaw.

This is one of several research projects lead by Shaw that looks at health and technology. He is an instructor within the Informatics Specialty in the Master of Science in Nursing Program at the Duke School of Nursing. Informatics is the study of data and information science and making it meaningful in healthcare.

Dr. Shaw recently purchased the two pairs of Google Glass as part of the Glass Explorer program, which allowed the technology to be available to developers and researchers.

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